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Submitted: 09-11-2013 by Hohlbein
A sectional kayak is great for storage, handling and transport. It's stable. The sections are quite loose, but the connection is tight on the water (caused by paddler's weight and buoyancy of the sections in the water) except for that bouncing of the front section when there are waves. One can fix that with foam strips though.
Concerning the strap connection, I never felt that it would tear apart and although being a cheap solution (strap material), I always felt safe.
Assembly is very fast and easy to do, there are videos for that on the internet (as almost everything that should be in the manual - which is a joke - is on YouTube). However, the plastic ratchet straps wear fast and seem to become (pricey) replacement parts. I'll also make my own fastening as the other reviewer suggested.
To me, Rockpool has (they use metal quick tensioners) and Australis seems to have a better solution.
When ordering online you can be lucky and get a Solo where all three parts fit more or less with only slight projections at the bottom, but you can also be unlucky and get a loosely fitting Solo with quite some projections (drag). I regret now that I did not buy where I could see how the sections fit on the kayak that I would buy. This even gets a bigger problem, if you first buy a Solo and then order online the mid-section to make it a Tandem. This could become an odyssey to get a fitting one in the end. Now I would only buy when I can see myself that all parts "fit" for both cases, that means when assembled as a solo and a tandem.
Made in China.
Check for tiny holes at the corner and rims of all sections as mine had water leaks. Can be welded water-tight though.
The warranty is a "1-year Limited warranty". 1 year? I had to read that twice to believe it.
The PE material appears brittle and scratches very easily (sand and small pebbles at the shore scratch the bottom when putting the section together), so now I only put the three parts together in knee-deep water at the shore, that's even easier.
The thickness of the plastic appears thin, the plastic also gives easily when pressing a bit with a finger (at the bottom of the mid section).
Color tone did not match for the sections. The tandem section also had a different color tone. I don't care, but it's not rocket science to get that right.
The rudder is way too sensitive and the pivot angle is too large which makes straight paddling a pain. To speed up and avoid unwanted rudder activation I found it feasible in the beginning to keep the legs loose (that means no leg drive) to not move the pedals unwillingly and just paddle with torso twist + "paddler's box"+ belly muscles. I keep the skeg in the up position so the rudder can not move 45° in each direction but only by 5-10 degrees, that's sufficient. I don't use the skeg at all even with wind. When windy, I just use the rudder and adjusted paddling strokes.
The skeg did not come out of the rudder anyway when I wanted to try it, as there wasn't enough tension on the spring for the skeg. One can increase the spring tension by turning the adjustment pin in the skeg box, but the pin can not hold the spring under tension. This can be overcome though by screwing the pin in (e.g. with a wood screw) after the having turned it to bring the spring under tension.
The skeg itself was warped to one direction which itself does not aid to paddle straight line.
The line for lifting/lowering the skeg was wound the wrong way inside the knob for pulling the line, so turning the knob does the opposite of what's written on it. Ok, that can be changed by dis-assembling the know and rudder line tube etc., but I decided to not spend more time.
Talking about lines, the rudder lines are not wear resistant as the braided protection already disappeared at the bends on the deck after 40 hours of paddling.
The seat caused me "dead legs" after a while. So I put a Thermarest inflatable "lite seat" on it (only inflated it a bit). I also inserted a plastic bag between the original seat and the Thermarest seat, that allows a better torso twist and even to start using a soft alternating leg drive and using the toes for rudder control. I wonder though, that even just a slight leg drive might be to much force on the mountings of the pedals in the long run.
So what's my take?
It would be really a decent recreational kayak, but I found it to have too many design and manufacturing flaws.
I have a Solo and another Solo with a Tandem section and will keep them for family recreational use.
Occasionally used, it will be fun enough at the lakes for that purpose. But for how long, one summer? Or two? To be honest, it does not seem to be made to last long and the warranty is only 1 year.
I was excited when I found it on the internet, when I got it and when I unpacked it. Also when I first used it (until I found out it leaked). I got less and less excited with each use. I'll be getting another sectional for myself elsewhere next summer. There are a lot of companies to choose from when looking for sectional kayaks. Besides some well-known sea kayak brands (I will go for one of them and choose a company that manufactures where it's located) which all seem to have a custom option for sectionalizing their composite kayaks, there are even those I never heard of before Googling, but which apparently have been around for some time with sectionals.